Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Cost of EBooks

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 20:  The new 'nook' digital reader is displayed at a launching  October 20, 2009 in New York City. The 'nook' is a wireless reader which will be available on Barnes & Noble's Web site and in stores and is currently available for 'pre-order' for $259. The 'nook' is less than 5 inches wide and 8 inches tall and weighs 11.2 ounces. At $259 it will be the same price as the recently reduced Kindle by Amazon.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Like many others, I thought books for the Kindle would be dirt cheap. Five dollars or less--after all, no paper, shipping, store costs, etc. Wrong!

According to the September 2010 Wired Magazine's "Burning Question" column--which I can't find online--those costs account for a paltry 15% of book prices. The other 85% is taken by authors, editors, designers, marketers, publicists, distributors and resellers. And all but the last two (and I'm not so sure about distributors) are still necessary to effectively sell ebooks.

In addition, an ebook needs antipiracy software, programmers to adapt each text to different platforms, and extra legal support (not sure what that entails). Another less obvious reason for slightly higher-than-necessary prices comes from Larry Doyle: Publishers are "concerned about devaluing people's perception of books."

Hmm. Don't know if I agree but I never pass up an opportunity to quote a Doyle. That was my grandmother's family name.

However, Rick Broida--the author of this Wired article--goes on to point out that authors can eliminate all those middlemen and publish their tomes on Amazon. Amazon lets authors take 35%, an unheard-of cut...but wait! Apple ibooks will let authors keep 70% of sales--70% !!!

I assume that means, though, that the author has to put out money in advance for professional editing and cover art and design. I assume too that all publicity is the author's responsibility, so s/he will probably have to pay for a publicist, travel, promotional items, ads.

So stay tuned. I doubt that we'll be downloading $4.99 thrillers any time soon.


Ed Pilolla said...

haha! i just re-loaded my books onto the kindle last night and was growling of my 35 percent cut. i mean, i'd much rather have 70 percent of four dollars:)
thanks for stopping by my blog.

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!